My Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore Anniversary

Today marks another milestone in the long, colorful history of running : Dec. 2, 2012 – Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS).

I’m going nostalgic over it.  I ran 42.195KM in last year’s edition.  It was my first time to join a full marathon event abroad, and my first to cover such distance without the presence of any of my teammates.  I intended to run it that way, for I wanted to test my WILLPOWER so badly‘What the mind conceives, the body achieves’…on with it!  I registered as soon as SCMS started accepting runners for the 2011 ed.  I had my flights and hotel accommodation booked, as well.  I invested on this test.  I had to finish it no matter how crazy it sounded.  I posted it in Facebook, not for the bragging rights, but to challenge myself even more.  Failure was never an option. 

I have a way of working on and around my goals, but at that time, it wasn’t working.  If it wasn’t working in a certain area of my life, then I would have to compensate the need to accomplish something – running did it for me without fail.  I was certain to beat all doubts in my head. 

SCMS 2011 - From Orchard - East Coast Park - Raffles Blvd - Padang

SCMS 2011 – From Orchard – East Coast Park – Raffles Blvd – Padang

Friday, Dec. 2, 2011 – I spent only half of the day in the office.  I had a late afternoon flight to catch at NAIA Terminal 2, and a carbo-loading dinner waiting for me in Pasir Ris, SG.  The dinner was hosted by Ate Emma – whose friendship I cherish for two decades and counting. 

I checked-in at Concorde Hotel Orchard Road around 11PM.  Staying in my friends’ flat meant that they would also need to wake up at wee hours of the morning, so I opted to stay in a hotel near the START line (Ngee Ann City, Orchard). Five things about Concorde: spacious room, courteous staff, good food, location, and competitive rates.  Adrenaline and dopamine fueled my excitement.  I can’t wait to start the next fun-filled day with my long-time friends.

Concorde Hotel Orchard - my home away from home for two tonights

Concorde Hotel Orchard – my home away from home for two nights

Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011 – It was never too early to give myself a small reward for being gutsy enough to join SCMS.  It was a breakfast treat – the best strawberry pancakes via room service! 

Concorde Hotel Orchard serves one of the best strawberry pancakes in town.

Concorde Hotel Orchard serves one of the best strawberry pancakes in town.

Right on time, 10AM – my SG-based soul sister Atty. Cashmere fetched me from the hotel, and we headed straight to Marina Bay Sands (MBS) for the Race Entry Pack Collection (REPC).  With almost 60K runners, the REPC that morning was surprisingly hassle-free!  We still had time to do a little shopping before we met up with Renchie to lunch.  We were greeted with fine dining at Sky on 57, and the best aerial view of Metro Singapore at the SkyPark.

Bestfriends from Bukluran days! =)

Best friends from Bukluran days! =)

New form of liquid therapy. This sumptous soup is served with a shot of Johnny Walker Blue Label.  Superb! =)

New form of liquid therapy. This sumptuous soup is served with a shot of Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Superb! =)

Kuya Renchie conquered his fear of heights! - MBS Skypark / View Deck

Kuya Renchie conquered his fear of heights! – MBS Skypark / View Deck

View from MBS - The Singapore Flyer

Singapore Flyer – view from the SkyPark

Esplanade on a cloudy day.

Esplanade on a cloudy day.

Another tourist coming to life...

Another tourist attraction coming to life…

The day didn’t end at MBS.  It started to rain again at 3PM, and I was thinking – here’s another epic run waiting to happen, a full marathon in the rain.  Cashmere probably noticed that I was beginning to feel the pressure.  The remedy:  we went to another shopping destination – Takashimaya, later to be joined by the lovely couple Kris and Jenny-Vi.  Good conversation over Korean food – we called it dinner!  Cashmere accompanied me back to the hotel.  She asked for my after-race (kikay) kit and promised to cheer for me at the Finish line.  At 8PM, it was ‘goodnight, Orchard’.

NOW the RUNNING PART…

Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011 – My day started at 2AM.  A bit before 5AM, I was one with the crowd as we cheered at the START line.  No time pressure, I told myself,  finish it

SG has a relatively flat terrain and warm climate – same as Metro Manila…but humidity in SG was a major factor. I didn’t expect that level of humidity.  After KM5, I felt that my body fluids were gone.  At KM23, East Coast Park – I saw a number of runners down to their knees, agonizing in pain called cramps.  It was shocking.  At KM31, I thought it was the FINISH line for some distance categories, as the crowd was thick.  It wasn’t a finish line, it was the MEDICS area.  I passed by and saw a lot of people lying on stretchers.  They were so pale.  It gave me ‘The Chill’.

At KM32, I noticed edema (water) in my fingers.  All 10 were swollen already and started to numb.  I knew it was temporary, but I didn’t want to risk it – not being able to finish the marathon.  I didn’t fly all the way to SG to DNF (Did Not Finish – a term use in running.  It means ‘dropping out of the race’).  I had to lower my pride.  I knew at that moment, I wouldn’t be able to beat my time at MIM (Manila International Marathon).  I had to walk all the way to the FINISH line.  The good thing about it was, I had my cellphone-camera with me. 

The course wasn’t all pretty as I reached the FINISH line.  Runners dropping out of the race in pain, assisted by the paramedics and race marshalls – it was a common, disheartening scenario.  I continued to pray.  The race became my metaphor.  I set goals to achieve…then what?  I realized that I didn’t want to go through the rest of my life, not like this – ALONE!  Pride had no room at that moment.  I was confronted by my metaphor.  I knew there was something out there for me, which was more than running and chasing goals left and right.  I knew it all along. 

START Line - Ngee Ann City

START Line – Ngee Ann City

7KM na lang! =)

7KM na lang! =)

Scenic race route

Scenic race route: it was like touring SG by foot

Imposing view of Marina Bay Sands; runners trudging under the scorching heat of the sun

Imposing view of Marina Bay Sands; runners trudging under the scorching heat of the sun

My favorite shot during the race - an SCMS official photo

My favorite shot during the race – an SCMS official photo

Finish! =)

Finish! =)

One for the bucket list! =)

One for the bucket list! =)

After-race-treats! =)

After-race-treats! =)

Atty. Cashmere waited for me at the FINISH line.  She knew that I would have a tough time negotiating the impact of SG’s natural humidity.  She didn’t bother to tell me before hand; it might be quite discouraging.  She also knew I would get through it – come hell and high waters.  (Thank you, sis!  You’ve got faith in me! Thank you for supporting me all the way! It meant a lot.)

That same day at 5PM, I was already in Changi Airport, bound for Manila.  This was, indeed, one for the bucket list.

Wait, there’s more!  I managed to shop online for an original DVD as soon as the official SCMS announcement came out.  Addict! =)  This one is for my (future) children. 

Talk about drafting a personal history...

Talk about drafting a personal history…

My California Dream Vacation

All the leaves are brown
and the sky is grey
I’ve been for a walk
on a winter’s day

I’d be safe and warm
if I was in L.A
California Dreamin’
on such a winter’s day

Lines from a classic psychedelic / folk rock song by the Mamas and the Papas, ‘California Dreaming‘ (1965).  I also love the Beach Boys’ cover.  I used to listen to this song a lot before I went to San Diego.  Last weekend, Wilson Phillips performed a cover that made me browse Youtube just to be able to listen to this classic all over again.  Here’s reminiscing of those good times in California. 

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Day after Christmas, year not so long ago, I was aboard a PR flight bound for Los Angeles.  It was my first long-haul flight, all by myself, and with that I prefered to book a flight with Philippine Airlines for an ‘at home’ vibe.  I instantly jibed with my Fil-Am seatmates, and they talked about their lives in CA and those they left behind in our home country.  The conversations were truly an eye opener.  Instantly, the first-hand accounts become part of my life education.  Hours in the plane were well-spent!

I was literally pinching my arm once in a while during that 12-hr flight. It was real, I was finally on with my dream vacation.  Inside, I was singing with excitement – California Dreamin’ on a winter’s day!

Flight landed at LAX, approximately 7PM.  The California winter chill was truly shocking to the ribs for someone like me who thrived in tropical climate.  My family fetched me from LAX and we headed for San Diego – my home away from home!!!  =)

Timezone gap was foreign to me.  I slept through the night. Next day, after a hearty lunch at home, my cousin Sarali and I went shopping.  I was loving the town centers that I instantly bought 3 pairs of shoes, a bag, and a pink pair of Everlast boxing gloves for my training back in Manila (I was to lose 40.00lbs through a fitness routine which included boxing).  Very promising stay (Yikes! I was extra careful not to break the bank).  The next three weeks were spent visiting family friends, driving around National City, shopping at outlet stores, chillin’ in Las Vegas…and munching on steak, fries, and everything nice (meaning, more steak!).  I forgot about what I was doing at work in Manila for three weeks.  The inner child in me got a free rein for the rest of my stay in CA.

Here’s a mix of fun stuff and ideas, stamped – Meowth’s California Dream Vacation:

1.  Driving – For me, long leisure drives or road trips are therapeutic.  My uncle and I took turns at the steering wheel on our way to Vegas and back to San Diego via freeway.

Freeway: California – Nevada

Sunset – Otay Ranch

2.  I was so excited to see Shamu and Friends up close and personal.  I got to bring home a plush dog, which I named Lester.  I got him from a target game at SeaWorld San Diego.

San Diego SeaWorld presents Shamu

A charming sea-lion – he wants fish! =)

3.  Legoland is a wonderland!

New York! New York! – an amazing cityscape by Lego

The Capitol by Lego

Lego’s Fun Town Academy

4.  Nevermind the 2hr ++ drive to Anaheim; heading out for the happiest place on earth called DISNEYLAND!  The magic got into me; queued at Mickey’s place for a meet-and-greet with Mickey and Minnie!  I talked my cousins into doing a jump shot (photo), and we were laughing out loud while (we were) at it.  People were staring, but after our shot, we saw a couple of kids who were giddy over their version of the ultimate jump shot.

I was part of a happier crowd @ Disney Anaheim!

Chillaxin’ @ Mickey’s House

5.  Shopping.  I filled three cartons with shopping finds – two of which I shipped in advance to the Philippines.  We, Filipinos call these cartons, ‘Balikbayan box’.

Federal offense? NOT Guilty. Shopping??? Charge!!! Uh-oh

6.  Lovin’ the Pinoy food at Tita’s Kitchenette in National City – love, love, love their banana fritters or turon (in Tagalog), complete with jackfruit bits or langka (in Tagalog).  I ate those turon in the parking lot, sort of when I started to miss home – I ate turon as I watched cars plied by the plaza.  Dreyer’s and Haagen Dazs’ were relatively cheaper, so I ended up being the only person in the grocery who bought ice cream on a winter.  =)

My favorite Pinoy fastfood – Tita’s Kitchenette, East Plaza Blvd., National City

7.  New Year celebration in the Philippines is about family, and it is very much the same with the majority of Fil-Am in San Diego.

8.  Las Vegas seems lifeless under the morning sun, but it transforms into the grandest place under the night sky.  View from the Stratosphere – Top of the World was amazing – under a canopy of stars and over a blanket of the brightest city lights.  Bellagio’s Dancing Waters is a classic outdoor production not to be missed.

Absolutely Vegas! =)

Stratosphere view deck

Bellagio Dancing Waters

9.  I was basking in the snow at  Mount Charleston (the mountain resort is about an hour’s drive from Vegas, that part going to Reno).  We never have snow in this part of Asia where I live.

Enjoyin’ a day out in the snow with my cousin Sarali. =)

10.  A little downtime at Shady Glade had a rejuvenating effect, as well.

Home away from home =)

After a three-week vacation in California, I was ready to go back to Manila…to go back to one of life’s reality called work…to start a new chapter – aligned with my goals for the New Year.  Energy level:  high-five!  =)

The World is My Oyster

Based on my Facebook post, Wanderlust, 29 March 2012.

It was in 2006 when I experienced total clinical burnout which started from chronic fatigue syndrome. Talk about life before wellness. I dedicated a huge chunk of my energy and time living in the fast lane – it wasn’t as fulfilling as it is today.

Since that disturbing clinical diagnosis, I’ve been living a happy life within the most responsible terms I could muster. I entered a fitness program, then I tried sports – I found out how much I enjoy running, badminton, and practically anything that could stimulate the adrenaline big time. I started to travel, not for work, but for wanderlust. Traveling is, indeed, liberating.

I travel to unwind, get fresh perspective, and educate myself: the food, sight, culture, people and their dialect. I made all sort of travels, either solo or with my favorite people.

1. Road trips with Charlaine, Lowell, and BFD

2. Solo trips, here and abroad

3. Vacation with family and friends

4. Out-of-town / out-of-the-country — all for the love of running and carbo-loading (runner eh!)

5. Traveling, and still not coming to terms with true love (yahoo!!!)

6. Nature trips, theme park escapades, cultural immersion (plus, good food and wine)

7. Shopping trips (retail therapy!)

8. For the arts (D’Orsay, Louvre, Versailles, Van Gogh…and Louis Vuitton?, etc.)

9. Adventure trips, including water sports – parasailing, helmet diving, hiking, snorkelling, rappelling, white river rafting, zip line, canopy bridge walk, and wakeboarding.

10. Quiet weekend / a li’l soul-searching (to accept or not to accept…nininu ninu)

More trips to enjoy and learn from, more adventures to conquer…the world is my oyster! =D

How high can you fly?
Parasailing with Charlaine

How deep can you dive?
Helmet diving with friends =)

When you feel like pushing your adrenaline level…
White river rafting with friends, Cagayan de Oro

How far can you run?
Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore

When no weather is too cold to go out and play…
Snow ball fight at Mt. Charleston

How far can you drive?
Bangui Windmill Farm – about 560km from Manila

When you feel that you’re never too old to enjoy Disneyland…
Fun time with my family =)

When you open yourself up to the city, and it begins to educate you…

What else do you want to learn?
Wine class at O Chateau Paris

Traveling…there’s just no stopping. =)

Paris Museum Series: Musee Du Louvre

Facade – Musee du Louvre and Pyramid (completed, 1989)
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

The Musee Du Louvre (myze dy luv) – in English, Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world’s largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world, and a historic monument.  A central landmark of Paris, France, it is located in the right bank of the Seine at the first arrondissement (district).  Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 19th century are exhibited over an area 60,600 square meters.  – http://en.wikipedia.org

At the Pyramid’s underground lobby (inaugurated in 1988), plus the imposing view of the Richelieu Wing.
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

It was during the French Revolution that a committee to ‘preserve the national memory’ was appointed – this paved the way to the opening of Louvre as a museum, 10 August 1793. 

Early perspective drawing of the Louvre Palace , Louvre Exhibit
Photo by: A. Sales

The current facade of the Grand Louvre and the Pyramid were completed in 1989, as part of a major renovation.  That renovation was earmarked as a high-ticket project under President Francois Mitterrand’s administration. 

In 2011, the Louvre, being host to 8.8 million guests, was ranked as the world’s most visited museum. 

In April 2012, I got the chance to visit the Louvre!  I was able to take some interesting photos, too! =)

Visitors are allowed to take photos and videos in the permanent collection halls.  However, flash or similar lighting device/equipment is prohibited.

A ‘meowth moment’ at the Denon
Denon Wing : Named after the first Louvre museum director, Dominique Vivant Denon – appointed by Napoleon I, 1801.

Musee du Louvre is divided into 8 curatorial departments:  Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, Roman; Islamic Art; Sculptures; Decorative Arts; Paintings; and Prints and Drawings.  – http://en.wikipedia.org.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is considered as the most celebrated art work at the Louvre.  It was thought to have been bought by Francis I sometime in 1546.  Now speaking of Da Vinci in the context of pop subculture, the Louvre has reported earnings of about 2.5M USD for allowing the movie, The Da Vinci Code (2006) to film at its galleries.

Meowth : Vis-a-vis avec Mona Lisa
The most important Italian Renaissance art work at the Louvre
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

Mona Lisa is displayed at the Denon Wing.  Opposite her portrait is one of Louvre’s finest religious paintings – The Marriage at Cana by Paolo Veronese (1528 – 1588).  He painted a crowd of over 130 figures, set in high-fashion 16th century Venice. 

Backdrop : Marriage at Cana

Two of my favorites are:  Venus de Milo – a marble sculpture from the Hellenistic Age (2nd century B.C.), which served as the epitome of Greek feminine beauty; and Nike of Samothrace (190 B. C.).  Both sculptures are displayed at the Denon Wing of the Louvre.

Hellenistic image turn classical art : Venus de Milo

Nike (Victory) was once erected at the prow of a ship which she would guide to victory. Found in Samothrace in 1863, arms and hands missing, Nike dates from about 190 B. C.

It’s now becoming obvious that I did spend a considerable amount of time at the Denon Wing.  The greater collections of Italian Renaissance paintings, including that of Raphael’s and Michael Angelo’s are housed in this section of the Louvre.

Portrait of Baldassarre Casteliogne – Raphael (1483 – 1520)
This canvass painting dates from around 1514-1515.
Photo by: A. Sales

David and Goliath – Daniele da Volterra (1509 – 1566)
Photo by: A. Sales

Italian painting, inspired by Catholicism
Photo by: A. Sales

The Richelieu Wing is home to Napoleon III Appartements exhibit.  The place has been restored to its equally splendour setting as it was during the time of Napoleon III and his wife Empress Eugenie (Second Empire).

Grand Salon

Grand Salon

State Dining Room

Other interesting photos, as captured by our lenses…

Ceiling adorned by paintings
Photo by: A. Sales

Springtime! Duck at the Pyramid pond, Grand Louvre
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

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When in Paris…

Musee du Louvre is conveniently accessible to the public via METRO – Palais Royal Musee du Louve Lines M1, M7;  Louvre – Rivoli M1

Official website:

http://www.louvre.fr/en

Paris Museum Series: Chateau de Versailles

The Orangerie of Versailles
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

Versailles (Ver-sai), located on the outskirts of Paris, was once the seat of political power in France.  It used to be a township where the estates of Louis XIV were established (1682), and the celebrated court of Louis XVI and his famous wife – the last queen of France – Marie Antoinette thrived until the beginning of the French Revolution (1789).

Today, Versailles is the picturesque grandeur of what it used to stand for.  By structure, it is a collective tribute to the greatness of Baroque architecture and all the finer things upheld by the absolute monarchy of the Ancient Regime.  It presents history in a setting that is unparalleled – mix of charm, human struggle, and nostalgia. A day trip to Versailles is akin to going back in time.    

I read about Versailles and Marie Antoinette in the history books.  So when I got the chance to visit, I did not pass up.  Last spring, with my good friend Cashmer, I went to Versailles – the experience was about history magnified a hundredfold.  I was in awe.

The Grand Chateau

The interior court of the Chateau de Versailles.
This entrance leads to the Grand Chateau.

Chapel at the Grand Chateau – one of the five chapels built during the time of Louis XIV
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

The Grand Appartement du Roi (King’s private apartments), Grand Appartement de la Reine (Queen’s bedchamber), Hall of Mirrors, and the Orangerie are part of the Grand Chateau.

The Hall of Mirrors – the most celebrated room in the castle; venue for important ceremonies, Court of Versailles

Paintings cum masterpiece all over the ceiling of the Grand Chateau.
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

Appartement de la Reine – Marie Antoinette’s Room
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

Giving birth was not a private occasion for the Queen and the royal family.  The public was allowed to witness the birth of the royal children.  This was somehow in line with how the throne was passed on in terms of birth rank and gender.  The Queen’s bed area was lined with balusters as demarcation – the members of the royal family and doctors were the only ones allowed to stay beside the Queen.  

The Queen’s bedchamber also has a (once) secret door adjacent to the jewel cabinet.  It was used by Marie Antoinette to escape the siege of Versailles (1789).

Gardens of Versailles

Versailles is also host to well-manicured gardens. 

“I know how much you love flowers, but I’m not going to give you a bouquet. I’m giving you a garden, instead.”  Louis XVI offering the garden to his wife, Marie Antoinette.  (Since this is my blog – I can make side comments:  Siya na ang mahaba ang hair!)

Enjoying a windy spring afternoon stroll at the Gardens of the Grand Chateau

Pathway to the Grand Chateau

A serene garden – Grand Trianon, Versailles
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

The Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon

Built in the time of Louis XIV, the Grand Trianon was used as a rest house.  Guests were invited and received, minus the strict etiquette of the Court at the Grand Chateau.  The smaller palace next to it is the Petit Trianon, which was built for Louis XV’s long-term mistress.  During the reign of Louis XVI, the Petit Trianon was given to Marie Antoinette for her exclusive use. 

Facade – Grand Trianon

The Salon – Grand Trianon

Marie Antoinette’s Estate

Marie Antoinette, so wanted to escape the regimented ways of the Court of Versailles, ordered the construction of her own hamlet (1783).  It was to copy the true ambience of a village – rustic charm + country living.  It eventually became a farm – supplying products to the kitchen of the Chateau (Palace).

The Queen’s Hamlet
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

Cashmer and I spent a day in Versailles – time well-spent! As for the ‘take away’, I now have a better appreciation of history – I must say, the visit is tantamount to N units of history subjects being taught in schools.  Versailles is no ordinary museum.  It is a testament, representing power as a cross between triumph and tragedy.  Evocative.

Fountain and lagoon – Versailles

Next:  Musee D’Louvre 

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Getting there:  Versailles is about 30 minutes away from Paris city center via train.  Station:  Gare St. Lazare (St. Lazare Station).  There are several trips from Paris – Versailles in a day, interval of about 30 – 45min.

Official website:

http://en.chateauversailles.fr/homepage